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#HPBQuest 2019


I have a very mixed relationship with Half-Price Books. Many, many books and graphic novels and such that I own come from the chain. But much as I find great stuff at times, they drive me absolutely nuts when it comes to their trying to be too much all at once, instead of just a diversified used-books-and-such store. But that’s a subject for other posts.

This past weekend, I finally took the plunge and took a years-old idea and made a reality of it.

While I’ve been somewhat aware of their being at least 5 Half-Price Books locations in the Columbus, OH area in addition to the two that I’m aware of in the Cleveland, OH area, I don’t think I’ve ever made it to more than 2 stores in a given day: Either both that are still around here, or a couple of the Columbus ones when I’m in the area to visit a friend when she’s in town.

But what if I were to take a day, and simply make it my goal to visit as many of these as I could? No particular visitation, not meeting up with anyone…not the passive “I’m in the area, might as well stop by the nearest HPB location.” But a specific attempt to visit all 5 of the stores.

As I’ve mentally dubbed it after the fact…it became my #HPBQuest. (Something more than “merely” a typical #HPBHaul).

And then after I actually made it to all 5 of the Columbus-area stores…I realized it wouldn’t be a significantly different timespan, so I decided to add the Cleveland ones into the mix on the way back, so made a sixth stop. Unfortunately, though, traffic I’d hit between the 4th and 5th Columbus stores (due to an OSU game) delayed me long enough that I’d have gotten to the 7th store about 5 minutes or less until closing, and I never want to be that guy.

So for good measure, after hitting 6 in one day, I hit that seventh on my way to another engagement the day after, just for good measure. (After all, what if they had something fantastic-awesome-amazing and I missed out solely for not taking a few minutes to stop in?)

Anyway…after such a “quest,” here’s the “haul,” what I have to show for such a random, crazy stunt.


Half-Price Books #1: NorthPointe Plaza, Lewis Center

I’m not sure what I expected to find first, but I wound up getting three books at the first HPB I stopped at.

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I snagged the updated Titan printing of the movie novelizations of Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection; though it turned out that I already had the latter. Oops.

I also grabbed MechWarrior Dark Age: Pandora’s Gambit, adding the first new MechWarrior book to my collection in probably 13-15 years.


Half-Price Books #2: Carriage Place Plaza, Columbus

While a bit underwhelmed at the first store, I found a fair number of MMPBs at the second. And probably my best find of the day in a Highlander complete TV series on VHS set (and just a few days after my Super-Blog Team-Up entry on Highlander and TMNT!)

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I’ve occasionally thought back to some years ago seeing at least a couple of the Highlander seasons at a now-closed HPB in Mentor. Though I have the series on DVD, I’d always liked the way the series was done on VHS with the spines of the tapes all making a single image. There was also something to it for the series being available like that at all, in the late-1990s, when it was rather rare for any tv series to have more than a few episodes or a “Best Of…” selection.

Being the type of person I am, seeing all six of these seasons available grabbed my attention. When I realized that each was the price of a single issue of a modern comic series I knew I was absolutely buying these, if only to HAVE them.

I’ll have to research a bit to see if the DVDs are supposed to have the same content, or if there’s something unique to these VHS that will warrant getting a player to actually try watching some of these!

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Since I’d already pulled them from the shelves, I also got several Dragonlance novels. The Legend of Huma is an old favorite, and in this case a duplicate…but as a favorite, I wanted to get it so I have a copy to perhaps gift to a friend or such!

The Battletech book was part of a hope of finding a number of books in the series, and GI Joe is GI Joe.


Half-Price Books #3: Lane Ave., Upper Arlington

The third HPB was the single largest I think I have ever seen!

Of course, when I first walked in, I thought it was the smallest. But the first room gave way to a hallway which opened into a massive room.

Unfortunately, despite being huge, they really didn’t have much that I was looking for or that I opted to buy, given what I’d already bought and might buy at other stores, with at least 3 more to go at the time.

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While I may wind up kicking myself on it, I opted for a 10-episodes-only He-Man and the Masters of the Universe DVD over a 2-box-set of the entire first season. #1, this was 1/5 the cost of the other and #2, just being practical, I don’t know when I’ll get around to actually watching even these, let alone binging–and sticking with it–an entire season!

I had never seen or known the Warmachine: Prime Rules Digest to exist, so bought it as a curiosity. I’m sure the full-size rules books that I own are VASTLY out of date as it is (ditto for Hordes), but for “only” $2.99 over $20-40, a curiosity was in order, here.


Half-Price Books #4: Shoppes At East Broad, Reynoldsburg

The fourth HPB was significantly less impressive after the size of the third. I did find the 4-issue Icons: Rogue series. I may already have this, but I’m equally likely to be thinking of a friend having bought the series for another friend. And while these ought to be 25-50 cent comics, they’re not something I’ve come across repeatedly or anything, so for $1 apiece, I figured that’s the price (or less) for anything Marvel publishes at present, and certainly worth spending for a full story like this.

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I’m not quite sure what to make of the covers…I’m not used to seeing Rogue illustrated this way, with an almost photorealistic appearance clearly based on the actress from the 2000 X-Men film (hard to believe that was 19 years ago, and this comic series is 18 years old now!)

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I normally am not much of a fan of oversized items, but I recall some hype over Molly Danger back in the day, and figured a collected edition would be over $10 now. And as a hardcover treasury-edition-sized thing for that price, this wasn’t bad.

I also scored the 4th and 5th seasons of Boy Meets World on the clearance shelves…which add nicely to the first 3 seasons I already have!

Finally, I actually found a copy of the live-action Masters of the Universe film that I’ve been keeping an eye out for.


Half-Price Books #5: S. State St. Westerville

By the fifth stop I was definitely getting rather worn down. I’d also hit some major traffic leaving the fourth store and at one point realized I’d wound up circling back completely to the store just trying to get away from the area.

A lot of intersections were coned-off as closed or turn-a-certain-way-ONLY and I ended up just following several roads for awhile (ignoring my phone’s GPS instructions) until I was far enough away to begin following the device again.

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This HPB I consciously remember visiting a couple times previously. Alas, no amazing Further Adventures of the Batman finds this time or such.

I’ve gotten away from omnibus volumes as they’re generally just too large and unwieldy to me. But I opted to get this Brightest Day one, thinking it didn’t seem too thick or heavy, but at 25 issues a decent size–larger than an 18-issue volume, but not a ridiculous 50-60-issue volume.

Snagging The Boys Omnibus vol. 1 for 50% off beat prices I’ve seen looking on Amazon or such…and was in-stock and available in-person in much BETTER CONDITION than anything Amazon would bother to deliver.

I’m pretty sure I have Chew vol. 1 from ages back. Seeing vols. 2-3 on clearance at $3/each (cheaper than a single issue of a modern comic), I snagged them.


Half-Price Books #6: Great Northern Blvd, North Olmsted

Despite “completing” my goal of all 5 Columbus-area HPBs, I decided it wouldn’t add much to my return trip to aim for a more local one to cap off the trip.

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This is one of the HPBs I’m most familiar with, that I probably get to every few weeks/couple months or so.

Having listened to the William Gibson Alien3 audiodrama from Audible and being deep into the Audible audiobook of Alien: Isolation, when I saw The Book of Alien, I was keenly interested.

I also found the best-condition copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets hardcover I’ve seen in years (even the dustjacket in better-than-Amazon-Prime condition!) so snagged that to complete my hardcover set of the series.

The Wonder Woman Anthology was a bit of a curiosity.Seems it was available exclusively through Costco, and contains the first Wonder Woman (New 52?) volume as well as the first volume of the New 52 Justice League and I think the first volume of the Rebirth Justice League. For $10, for such a thick volume, I figured why not?

Finally, saw the Zombies!!! base set (I think that’s what it is) and decided to get it rather than regret passing it up later. I’m looking forward to trying Zombicide with some friends in the near future, but with a new edition of that coming out next year, I’d rather wait. And I believe this game is the one that you can buy a “bag o’ zombies” and just seems a fun novelty to me and possibility for an interesting game, coming off the ending of The Walking Dead this summer and my 70-issue binge of the latter part of the series.


Half-Price Books #7: Golden Gate Plaza, Mayfield Heights

I could have just made it to Mayfield, but it would have been about 5 minutes until closing if I did…hardly time to go in and look around more than a cursory glance at a couple things. I’d wonder what I missed in such a rush-through of the store, plus I hate to be that guy in a retail place rushing in right before closing and holding everyone up.

Especially as visiting the next day would be a brief, convenient deviation from a straight point-A/point-B route to where I was going anyway!

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Alas, nothing of significant interest that I had to see or pick up.

I did find an acceptable-condition-to-me (and almost certainly better-than-AmazonPrime condition) copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Which, as I’d mournfully realized the night before, I was also missing from a complete set of the hardcovers.

For taking the time, I decided to get a “replacement copy” of Aliens Book 1: Earth Hive. My copy has been read several times over, and the spine is quite the worse for wear. This copy has a nice, clean spine that looks a lot better on the shelf with the other novels. I may also eventually “replace” books 2 & 3, but time will tell on those.


The Forgotten Amazon Orders

I also had a couple of Amazon orders arrive over the weekend.

One I’d intentionally had in addition to the HPB stuff, and the other I’d totally forgotten about.

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I think it was only a couple weeks ago I discovered the Alien: Isolation novel would exist (I think it just came out?). In half-assedly putting together an order for it, I came across Alien: Echo, which seems to be a YA novel set in the Alien universe. Definitely an oddity, but being in-brand, it’s something I was very interested in!

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While I feel the series was vastly over-hyped and opted not to get it at the time, I did finally decide to get Batman: White Knight. I also was not thrilled about it being a retroactive addition to DC‘s Black Label branding. But c’est la vie and all that.

I also had looked up–initially to put on a list to look into it more at some later point–the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection hardcover. But for its price and the size of the thing, went ahead and ordered it along with the White Knight volume.

I’m far from being a particular fan of the He-Man/Masters of the Universe stuff. But with a new series recently announced, having watched the Toys That Made Us episode on Netflix semi-recently-ish, and a couple YouTube videos about the toys, and seeing the size of this hardcover at a store, I realized it’s an excellent sort of volume, collecting all the vintage mini-comics and such into one neat volume, rather than one having to hunt down all the individual pieces as rare artifacts with individual vintage toys. They’re just all here, together, in one item, quite fit for the shelf.

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I’m pretty sure that this is essentially an “oversized hardcover” to the minicomics as a regular “oversized hardcover” is to regular comics. It’s a bit larger than digest-sized, but not quite full comic-book dimensions. Still a great volume, and sure to be an excellent resource!


All told, I don’t expect I’ll particularly want to undertake such a “quest” again as this weekend. It was an idea that’s rattled around the back of my head for years, so now having actually done it…that idea and curiosity has been more than satisfied.

It was definitely something to do, got me away from home, and was maybe the first real trip I’ve taken in years, so plenty of positives despite no desire to do it again anytime soon.

That said, it’s primed the idea to me of another similar idea I’ve had with a friend, or visiting a number of comic shops in a single overall trip. Though I’m pretty sure the “Comic Shop Crawl” would need to be a full weekend thing, or started much earlier in the day.

Time will definitely tell, though!

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